By Kevin Stoda
Outside of European tradition, multiple calendars have been in vogue and practice through-out the millennia.
This thought comes to mind as Taiwan is planning and carrying out many 100-year celebrations due to its "Republic of China Calendar". According to Taiwanese lore, "The ROC was founded by the Kuomintang (KMT) on Jan 1, 1912, after party founder Sun Yat-sen orchestrated a series of revolts that overthrew the Qing dynasty in the winter of 1911. It has become synonymous with Taiwan since the KMT's exodus to the island after losing a civil war on the Chinese mainland to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)."
Since I moved to Taiwan late last August, I have observed that the country runs on three calendars simultaneously. There is the aforementioned "Republic of China Calendar". (By the way, this is the more controversial calendar in Taiwan and East Asia.) It is called the Minguo calendar.
Officially, it should be said that " [t]he Republic of China uses two official calendars: the Gregorian calendar, and the Minguo calendar. The latter numbers years starting from 1911, the year of the founding of the Republic of China.
That is, on the one hand, the politicians and cultural leaders of Taiwan are busy gearing up for this big centennial. Mean" [w]hile [other] scholars and politicians are deadlocked in a debate on whether the centenary is politically correct," [Nevertheless,] there is no doubt that even though the past 400 years were dominated by a succession of colonial administrations, changes in the recent 100 years have been the most substantial and dramatic for Taiwan and its people."
The third calendar, which remains unofficial in Taiwan, but is followed openly by many peoples of Chinese descent in East Asia, is the so-called Chinese Calendar. This is a semi-Lunar Calendar.
" Although the Chinese calendar traditionally does not use continuously numbered years, outside China its years are often numbered from the reign of the Yellow Emperor, Huangdi. But at least three different years numbered 1 are now used by various scholars, making the year 2010 "Chinese Year" 4708, 4707, or 4647."
For the last 4 or more centuries, the 12th month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar has been set to end around the first week (or so) of February , i.e. according to the Western or Gregorian Calendars. " Chinese New Year [celebration] is the longest and most important festivity in the Chinese Lunar Calendar. The origin of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Ancient Chinese New Year is a reflection on how the people behaved and what they believed in the most." In Taiwan the festivities usually last about 7 days. Some other locations celebrate the Chinese New Year several days longer."
MULTIPLE CALENDARS--LIKE BIORYTHMS TO LIVE ON BY
Of course, many other religions and cultures celebrate continue to have separate calendars, too. For example, the Islamic lunar calendar is now over 1430 years old.